Retaining Connection in Remote Workforces
The strongest of bonds can be forged under the most difficult of times
Businesses are being pressed to adapt to the ramifications of Coronavirus spreading throughout our communities.
In accordance with social distancing measures, people are being thrust into working from home. It is important to appreciate this is will bring a seismic shift for most organisations and their people.
As Jason Wessel pointed out in his ‘6 principles for managing a remote workforce’ article, the deluge of people working from home will come with teething issues.
Individuals, teams, and organisations who have nil-to-little experience with flexible working arrangements will be under strain during this period. Even those well-versed in the practice of working from home will undergo issues, as we’re now moving towards more time at home and more of the workforce at home.
Acknowledging the inevitability of working from home for many of us, we need to empower leaders and employees alike to handle these novel circumstances.
So let’s further breakdown one of Jason’s 6 principles for maintaining performance in a remote workforce:
Regular, scheduled contact
Connection is crucial. Feeling a sense of connection with others is related to positive psychological, emotional, physical and performance outcomes.
What do we lose when working from home?
- We lose the face-to-face interactions and their ease of accessibility, which serves an important source of mental well-being.
- We can counter this loss with engaging in virtual check-ins via Facetime, Zoom and other mediums.
Importantly, leaders must schedule regular and timely times to hold these check-ins. These sessions serve as more than just an opportunity to clarify goals for the day and their progress (though it is this, too). They allow us the chance to share our feelings about our current state, assessment of the situation and perspectives on the future.
Engaging in these check-ins regularly will contribute immense value in supporting employees during these trying times, strengthening relationships. The strongest of bonds can be forged under the most difficult of times.
These practices ensure maintained connections and even opportunities to increase connectivity and belonging that may have been lacking before the COVID-19 outbreak.
We should see these difficult times as an opportunity to improve our connectivity with others – exactly when we need it most.
- Agree on check-in schedules.
- Establish a definitive number of minimum check-ins and their mediums (e.g., phone call vs video link).
- Maintain flexibility around schedules.
- Set at least 2 video link check-ins per day through video links, such as via Zoom or Facetime.
- Maintain usual communication channels (e.g., Slack and email).
- Set check-ins as appointments in your calendars and ensure reminders are activated.